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End of life care encompasses two categories: illness and natural aging. Each category has it's own points that need to be considered by loving pet owners. We are asked frequently, "what would you do?" We can help you understand what is happening but the decision is not ours to make. We hope the following information will help you and your family make the decision that is best for you and your pet.
It is crucial to understand that pet's hide pain. In the wild, animals showing signs of weakness are the most vulnerable to predators. Your pet is not a wild animal, but the instinct is still there. By the time you see pain in your pet it is no longer a small ache. We work hard to educate our clients about this and strive everyday to help ease pain in our patients. The following are some signs that your pet may be in pain: shaking, decreased activity, inability to stand or lay down easily, hiding, biting when touched, less social than normal, limping, constant licking at one place.
Having a loved one battle an illness is not easy. People can tell you how they feel, what hurts, what they need. Pets can not. Some illnesses can be treated and pain managed with pain medications. Unfortunately this is not always possible. The following are some illnesses that are extremely difficult to manage the pain present in the pet:
* Cancer of any kind, especially bone cancer
* Organ failure
* Severe arthritis
* Rear leg weakness
Senior pets have the same aches and pains we do as we age. Most of the time these pains can be eased with pain medications for long periods of time. It is crucial to maintain a relationship with your veterinarian so that long term medications can be monitored. Pets may also become incontinent. If your pet is having trouble maintaining bodily functions, please ask your doctor as there are medications that can help in some situations. Occassionally we hear people say they want their older pet to die a "natural death." What isn't understood is that a prolonged death is not a natural death. Wild animals that becomes too ill to obtain food or protect themselves perish quickly.
Quality of life is a crucial aspect that must be considered with our senior pets. Click here for our quality of life checklist
In our hospital, euthanasia isn't scary or painful. A sedative will be given first, followed by an anesthetic. This ensures that your pet will not be scared or in pain. It also affords you the opportunity to say goodbye. While you are welcome to stay with your pet through the entire procedure, some people prefer to leave after the pet is no longer aware you are there. When you are ready, the euthanasia injection will be given. Death will occur quickly. Involuntary actions (reflex) may occur which are not painful. These may include exhaling, urination, or muscle twitching that lasts a few moments. Your pet's eyes will not close automatically.
Our hospital offers cremation services. If you would like to have the cremains returned to you please let our staff know. You may choose burial in a cemetery or at home. Please be aware there may be government regulations that need to be observed.
The grief you will feel over the loss of your pet is real. We encourage you to reach out to the important people in your life for support. There are also a great number of resources on the internet to help you with this process.
We understand how hard it is to make the decision to euthanize a pet. We also know how much you love your pet. If you have additional questions or would like to set up a consultation with one of our doctors, please contact us at your convenience.